I'm feeling generous today, so maybe it's time for some recipe sharing. Carrot cakes I've made in the past were 'from scratch' recipes that were only so-so in terms of taste and texture. Some of this had to do with the fact that the great majority of carrot cake recipes call for ungodly amounts of oil or butter. I've seen recipes that call for 1.5 or even 2.0 cups of oil. CUPS. Yeesh. Try as I may, I just can't bring myself to use that much oil in anything, so I typically resort to the age-old trick of substituting half the oil with applesauce. That's all fine and dandy, but for this round I decided to find a recipe structured on a smaller amount of fat to begin with. It's no secret that most of my cakes come from a box, so without further delay...
Carrot Cupcakes (makes about 24)
1/2 cup oil
4 oz. jar carrot baby food
18.25 oz. box yellow cake mix*
2 tsp. cinnamon*
1/2 tsp. nutmeg*
1/4 tsp. cloves*
3.4 oz. box instant vanilla pudding
1 lb. carrots, peeled and finely grated
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
*You can save time by using a spice cake mix instead of these.
Preheat oven to 350°F and line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, oil, and carrot baby food until smooth. Add cake mix, spices, and instant pudding to bowl and beat on low until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl, then beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Fold in grated carrots and nuts, if using.
Portion batter into 24 muffin cups. (I was worried about overflow so I ended up making 28 cupcakes, but it turns out the batter doesn't rise all that much. Making 24 would give you a nicer, taller crown or "muffin top" than what I have pictured.)
Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes, or until cakes test done. Let rest in pans for 5 minutes, then remove cupcakes to cool on wire racks before frosting.
White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing (Yield: about 3 cups)
8 oz. cream cheese
2 oz. butter, softened
6 oz. bar white chocolate, melted and cooled
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
Beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add white chocolate and vanilla and continue to beat until incorporated, scraping sides of bowl as necessary. Gradually add powdered sugar, and continue to beat until fluffy and spreadable.